Thermal Desorption

Web-based Class Project
on Geoenvironmental Remediation
Prepared by:
Ian McCreery
Lukas Vander Linden
With the Support of:
Report prepared as part of course
CEE 549: Geoenvironmental Engineering
Winter 2013 Semester
Instructor: Professor Dimitrios Zekkos
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
University of Michigan
Thermal Desorption
Figure 1: “Thermal Desorption Unit” (Midwest Soil Remediation, 2013b)
Main Concept
Separates contaminants from soils by volatilizing
Gas stream is treated
Remediated soil can be reused onsite
Remediates organic wastes, fuels, PCBs, and chlorinated
Processes Involved
Figure 2: Generalized Schematic Diagram for ex-situ thermal desorption (NFESC, 1998a)
Types of Thermal Desorption
In situ or ex situ
Ex situ
o Batch or continuous
o Co-current or counter-current
o Direct and indirect heating
o Low and high temperature (300 C)
o Volatile contaminants (300 to 1000 F)
o Fuels, organics, and pesticides
o Clay, silt, sand, or gravel
Particle size distribution
o Fines may "carry over" (0.075 mm)
o Large particles may damage equipment and lead to
inefficient heating (2 in)
Moisture content
o High moisture content leads to increased heating and
increased material needing treatment
High throughput
o 20 to 160 tons/hour
o Time sensitive projects
Cost competitive for large volumes
o Above 1200 tons
"Hot spot" treatment
o Selective excavation
Soil reuse
Requires excavation
o In situ methods are uncommon
o Ex situ involves removing soil and increasing exposure to
workers and environment
Footprint or transportation
o Size of system is large
o Storage of soil is large
o If offsite thermal desorption (TD) unit is used,
transportation costs are high
o TD units require specific soil conditions (e.g. screening,
Table 1: Typical Cost Information (NFESC, 1998a)
Depends on:
o Site conditions, type of TD unit, contractor
Only treatment cost displayed
Table 2: Cost Comparison Data for Different Project Sizes (NFESC, 1998a)
Soil/contaminant characteristics dictate cost
o Moisture content
o Contaminant concentration
Case Study: 34 Freeman's Bridge
Figure 3: Aerial photo of 34 Freeman’s Road (Floess et al, 2011)
Case Study: 34 Freeman's Bridge
Contamination History
Located in Glenville, NY
Site previously owned by Kitchton Cooperage Company (KCC)
KCC dumped and recycled drums (non-hazardous waste)
Sold land in 1978 to Lyon's Ventures, Inc. (LVI)
LVI dumped hazardous/construction wastes
Case Study: 34 Freeman's Bridge
Remediation Timeline
1984 - NY State Dept of Environmental Conservation
(NYSDEC) registered it as a class 2 hazardous waste site
o Due to 80 55-gallon drums
o LVI claimed to have moved drums, removed site from
1989 - drums "rediscovered"
Summer 1996 - site was considered for commercial
December 1996 - site re-registered as class 2
Case Study: 34 Freeman's Bridge
Investigation revealed following contaminants:
o PCBs 33 ppm in soils < 2 feet deep
o PCBs 980 ppm in soils > 2 feet deep
o Other wastes included VOCs, SVOCs, heavy metals, and
Mohawk River located within 90 meters of property line
o Mohawk River considered suitable source of drinking
Case Study: 34 Freeman's Bridge
Remedial Solution
Mapped contaminants in 50 ft by 50 ft by 2 ft cubes
o Each cube classified in terms of its hazardous content
Environmental Soil Management, Inc. (ESMI)
o Remediated non-hazardous material with direct heated
thermal desorption
TD*X Associates (TD*X)
o Remediated hazardous material with indirect thermal
Case Study: 34 Freeman's Bridge
ESMI successfully treated contaminants
o PCBs < 1 ppm
o VOCs and SVOCs < 10 ppm
TD*X initially reached target goals
o Roofing construction materials clogged system
o TD*X developed solution at greater time and money
o NYSDEC opted to transport and dispose remaining wastes
All material was backfilled to original site
Desnoyers, D. A., (2004). “Record of Decision: 34 Freeman’s Road Bridge Site.” New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
Floess, C. H., Thorpe, M., Hoose, L., and McDonough, S. (2011). “Freeman’s Bridge Road Site Remediation Using Thermal Desorption.” Geo-Frontiers, 846-855.
Federal Remediation Technologies Roundtable (FRTR). (2008, July). “Data Requirements for Soil, Sediment, and Sludge.”
<> (Mar. 11, 2013).
Mechati, F., Roth, E., Renault, V., Risoul, V., Trouve, G., Gilot, P. (2004). “Pilot Scale and Theoretical Study of Thermal Remediation of Soils.” Environmental Engineering
Science, 21(3), 361-370.
Midwest Soil Remediation. (2013a). “More About Thermal Desorption.” <> (Mar.
14, 2013).
Midwest Soil Remediation. (2013b). “Thermal Desorption Projects.” <> (Mar. 18, 2013).
Miller, S. M. (1997, August). “Site Review and Update: Industrial Latex Corporation.” New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, Consumer and
Environmental Health Services.
Naval Facilities Engineering Service Center (NFESC). (1998a, June). “Application Guide for Thermal Desorption Systems.” NFESC, Port Hueneme, CA (Feb. 24, 2013).
NFESC. (1998b, February). “Overview of Thermal Desorption Technology.” NFESC, Port Hueneme, CA (Feb. 24, 2013).
RASCO, Inc. (1993, February). “Low Temperature Thermal Desorption Processes for the Remediation of Soils Contaminated with Solvents, Hydrocarbons, and Petroleum
Products.” U.S. Army Environmental Center, Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD.
Sharma, H. D., and Reddy, K. R. (2004). “Thermal Desorption.” Geoenvironmental Remediation: Site Remediation, Waste Containment, and Emerging Waste
Management Technologies, Wiley, Hoboken, NJ, 445-456.
Smith, M. T., Berruit, F., Mehrotra, A. K. (2001). “Thermal Desorption Treatment of Contaminated Soils in a Novel Batch Thermal Reactor.” Ind. Eng. Chem. Res., 40(23),
Sullivan, T. P., (1997). “Thermal Desorption: A Technology Review.” Texas A&M University.
United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). (1994, October) “Chapter VI: Low-Temperature Thermal Desorption.” How to Evaluate Alternative Cleanup
Technologies for Underground Storage Tank Sites: A Guide for Corrective Action Plan Reviewers, USEPA.
USEPA. (2001, February). “Low Temperature Thermal Desorption.” <> (Mar. 14, 2013).
USEPA Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. (2003, June). “Cost and Performance Summary Report: Thermal Desorption at Industrial Latex Superfund Site.”
More Information
More detailed technical information on this project can be found at:

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